Blog: Politics & Policy

Data, news, and analysis of politics and public policy in New Hampshire.

Senator Kevin Avard

The New Hampshire State House has an open-door policy. The building is part museum – and visitors are welcome to take in the living history. But some of the most interesting places are kept under lock and key.

How many retirees represent Merrimack County in the Legislature? What percentage of state reps are under the age of 35? And how does the State House's male/female ratio vary by political party?

The makeup of the New Hampshire House of Representatives has a major impact on daily life in the state. After all, these are the people who make the laws that govern us.

@GovChrisSununu

When does a tweet cross the line on government ethics?

That’s the question at the center of a complaint filed this week by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, alleging Gov. Chris Sununu’s recent tweet about his day skiing at Waterville Valley Resort — which is owned by his family and, until recently, was managed by Sununu himself — violates state ethics rules.

Alex Proimos via Flickr CC

During his speech to Congress Tuesday night, President Donald Trump reiterated his criticism of the Affordable Care Act, calling the health care law a “disaster.”  

"Obamacare is collapsing, and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice, it is a necessity," said Trump.

Plenty of Granite Staters, including the governor, are cheering after New Hampshire scored the No. 2 spot on a new U.S. News and World Report “Best States” index. But the details behind that new ranking paint a more complex picture than that "second-in-the-nation" title suggests.

With Republicans in full control of New Hampshire’s State House for the first time in more than a decade, Republicans have been moving quickly to enact policies that have long been on their wish list.

That’s been particularly true in public education.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

While President Trump and some of his allies perpetuated the (unverified and unsubstantiated) idea that out-of-state voters are being sent across the border en masse to throw New Hampshire elections, we were wondering: What can we actually know about the people who are showing up to register for the first time on Election Day?

Hannah McCarthy for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu delivered his budget address Thursday, outlining his priorities as the state Legislature kicks off its biannual budget writing cycle.

NHPR's newsroom has been reporting on what to expect this budget season — you can find a rundown on that right here — and now, we're offering more context on the things Sununu mentioned in the budget address itself.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

It's a rite of passage in New Hampshire -- every year, hundreds of fourth graders make a pilgrimage to Concord for a State House tour. In this audio postcard, students from Woodland Heights Elementary School in Laconia learn the basics of law making -- and how to make their voices heard.

Scroll down for a 360 degree photo of the students in the N.H. Senate chamber.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

At the New Hampshire State House, lawmakers don’t limit debate to bills and the budget. Control of square footage in the building itself can be as controversial as any partisan policy. I took a tour with a man who has a set of keys to the shared rental.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The job of New Hampshire lawmaker isn’t terribly rewarding—at least if you’re talking about sheer salary. A spot in the state Legislature offers annual compensation of just $100, one of the lowest in the nation.

But though they don’t earn much in their Statehouse paychecks, some lawmakers regularly bring home extra cash just driving to and from Concord.

profilestrategygroup.com

Michael Sununu, brother to Gov. Chris Sununu, is criticizing the science behind a recent bipartisan state report on the impact of climate change on the Seacoast.

In a 25 page critique, Michael Sununu calls the Coastal Risks and Hazard Report “alarmist hand wringing” that would lead to wasteful spending of public money.

Current Population Survey, © 2016 by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson

New Hampshire lawmakers are again debating Right-to-Work laws, with bills currently moving through both the House and Senate. With Republican majorities in both chambers, and a newly-elected governor who favors Right-to-Work, the policy stands its best chance of passing in more than a decade.

But Right-to-Work isn’t exactly a kitchen-table kind of issue. If you aren’t in a union, or a large business owner, you may not know much about its history, what Right-to-Work does, or why it matters.

Over the new few months, NHPR is bringing you a new way to experience Granite State stories from a whole new angle — literally. With 360-degree videos like this one, we're hoping you'll be able to more closely explore the places, and meet the people, we reporting on.

Cathy Merrill, Facebook

Traditionally, New Hampshire's poet laureate reads a poem at the inauguration of a new governor. This year, however, Gov. Chris Sununu chose someone with a different talent. 

Josh Rogers/NHPR

Even if you're a veteran of New Hampshire politics, chances are you've never heard this story before.

We certainly hadn’t - until last week, when Gov-elect Sununu spoke at a party celebrating the holidays, and the renovation of the Bridges House, New Hampshire’s governor’s residence.

Heading into November, New Hampshire Democrats talked a big game when it came to their hopes for retaking control of the state Senate.

But when the Republicans ended up maintaining the same 14-10 margin they’ve held for the past two years, Democrats placed at least part of the blame for their losses on gerrymandered district lines.

As it turns out, they might have a point.

2016 was a mixed bag for New Hampshire Republicans. The party’s top elected official, Senator Kelly Ayotte, lost her seat to Governor Hassan. But Chris Sununu’s win over fellow executive councilor Colin Van Ostern gave the GOP the Governor’s office for the first time in a dozen years.  

Kate Harper for NHPR

After a long, well-financed, neck-and-neck campaign, the race for United States Senate in New Hampshire could be headed for a recount.

Republican incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan finished Election Day separated by 1,023 votes out of more than 738,420 cast, with Hassan holding the slight lead.

Despite the razor thin margin, the two-term governor rallied her supporters outside the State House Wednesday morning.

The race for control of the New Hampshire Senate is playing out across the state’s 24 Senate districts.

But, thanks in part to years of partisan gerrymandering, the majority of those districts are not terribly competitive, with either Democrats or Republicans all but guaranteed a victory.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

    

After suggesting that Democrats were abusing the state’s same-day voter registration rules by “busing” in out-of-state voters, Chris Sununu clarified that he does not believe voters are being literally bused across the New Hampshire border en masse to participate in the elections — but he does favor stronger residency requirements to prevent potential abuses at the polls.

Down in the polls, low on cash and deeply unpopular, Rep. Frank Guinta could use all the help he can get defending his 1st District Congressional seat.

But, adding insult to injury, the incumbent has been all but abandoned by the Republican party’s major lifeline for House candidates. 

Complaints about skewed public polls are nothing new. Recent election cycles have included many such accusations from candidates – especially when they’re running behind. In 2012, many Republicans held onto the idea that the polls were skewed against Mitt Romney, right up until Barack Obama won reelection.

Friends of Chris Sununu

If you’ve tuned into local news stations lately, you might’ve spotted Chris Sununu’s first TV ad of the general election.

A few seconds in, Sununu, the Republican nominee for governor, talks up his business experience at the helm of Waterville Valley Ski Resort, where he’s served as CEO since his family bought the resort in 2010.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

After a surprise strong showing in last month’s GOP gubernatorial primary, Frank Edelblut is back on the campaign trail, backing his former rival Chris Sununu.

And while he’s not commenting on his political ambitions, the move suggests Edelblut could have more elections in his future.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

This story has been updated with a response from the Trump campaign.

At his rally in Bedford last week, Donald Trump’s prescription for New Hampshire’s drug crisis — a wall at the southern border as a way to stop the flow of drugs into the country — earned plenty of cheers.

That proposal, and his assessment of the state’s drug issues more generally, went over less well with New Hampshire’s leading drug prevention advocacy organization, New Futures.

Chris Jenson

Kelly Ayotte’s reelection race was always going to be a steep uphill climb. She’s facing a relatively popular opponent in Gov. Maggie Hassan, an electorate looking for change, and the more Democrat-friendly New Hampshire voters who typically turn out in presidential years.

But as Ayotte struggles to reach escape velocity, the pull of Donald Trump’s unpopularity threatens to keep her earthbound. 

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Following their first debate Monday, Hillary Clinton has a 7-point lead over Donald Trump in New Hampshire according to a poll released Friday by WBUR.

The poll conducted Sept. 27-29 found 42 percent of likely voters supporting the Democratic presidential nominee, and 35 percent backing her Republican opponent. Thirteen percent of voters said they support Libertarian Gary Johnson.

The poll surveyed 502 likely voters and has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

NHPR

Back in January, former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu warned voters against “drinking the Trump Kool-Aid.”

On Tuesday, Sununu poured himself a glass and took a big sip.

Spending by outside political groups in New Hampshire's U.S. Senate race reached $50 million this week, fueled by a recent barrage of negative ads sponsored by a super PAC supporting Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte.

Granite State Solutions has booked an estimated $11 million in TV ads on Boston stations through mid-October. All 2,800 of the 30-second spots, which are scheduled to run through mid-October, attack Ayotte's challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan. 

Pages